Due to the wide availability of jobs and the positive economic impact it has on local communities, hospitality is an important industry. It’s also hugely varied; whether you choose to work in hotels, catering, the food and beverage industry, on a cruise, in events or nightlife, there are heaps of roles on offer, with many choosing to stay in the sector long term, working their way up the ladder.
In order to be successful, though, there are a core set of skills that you will need to possess. Hospitality is all about providing outstanding service and leaving customers with a smile on their face, which is a role that isn’t necessarily suited to everybody.
Therefore, to help you determine whether you have what it takes to make your way in this field, we’ve compiled a list of key attributes required.
Strong communication skills are highly valued in every industry, but especially so in hospitality and tourism. Each day, you will be dealing with people from a variety of backgrounds, ages, nationalities and temperaments, so it is important that you can communicate in a way that is both clear and understandable, as well as representative of your employer’s brand. As already mentioned, you want your customers to come back, so the ability to build and cultivate relationships can make a big difference. It is also important to be able to communicate clearly with your fellow staff members, especially in busy, high-pressure environments like nightclubs or kitchens, where effective teamwork is crucial.
Essentially, customer service is about being both positive and proactive. Even when you are dealing with a difficult customer, it’s important to smile, be polite and remain professional. Alternatively, on certain occasions, it can also be about going for the extra mile for a guest or a patron. Remember the more positive the experience you provide, the more likely you are to receive good feedback.
In hospitality, a large percentage of the customers you face (and, indeed, people you work alongside) will be from abroad. This means working with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. As a result, your ability to be culturally aware and adapt to attitudes and norms that are different from your own is crucial to building a successful career. Your customers will not always share the same values, belief systems and perceptions, so it’s important to take this into account when trying to help them feel more comfortable. As with all customers, the goal is to make them so happy that they’ll want to come back.
One of the reasons why hospitality can be a difficult industry to work in due to its hecticness. In most cases, there’s no such thing as a quiet day in the office and, therefore, the ability to multitask and handle several tasks at once will serve you well. This means learning how to prioritise and manage your time effectively. Always maintain a positive attitude and handle pressure by remaining calm when things get chaotic. Even if it’s just a part-time role while you’re studying, these are key soft skills that are highly sought-after in any workplace.
If you’re going to work in hospitality, then regardless of your role, you’re going to have to work smart. It’s likely that you will be on your feet most of the time, working long shifts for little reward – all while maintaining a cheerful and friendly disposition in front of customers. Therefore, if you have a tendency to skive, or you’re not willing to roll up your sleeves and get the job done, it’s likely to be discovered causing you to be dismissed, rather quickly.
Although not necessarily a requisite, language skills are a huge bonus in this field because they allow you to communicate with a wider range of clients. They are particularly useful if you want to work in the tourism sector, where your knowledge of languages is useful on an in-person, day-to-day basis. Language skills can also benefit your career in the long term, too. If you speak Mandarin, for example, then there could be operations and/or management opportunities available to you on a more senior level, such as in a customer liaison or relationship management role. Indeed, languages are a plus in any industry, so why not consider taking a class?
Although this won’t make or break your hospitality career, there are times when they can come in handy. Whether it’s spotting billing or administrative errors at the reception area or noticing that a particular ingredient is past its best in the kitchen, it’s the little things that can make a big difference. It can also help you to develop relationships with customers and provide a more positive experience overall. For instance, suggesting a particular type of wine to accompany a dish, remembering how a certain customer prefers their drink to be made, or even noticing that somebody is struggling to carry their luggage and offering to help are all small details that can leave a big impression on customers.